Q&A with Actually star Simon Manyonda

Posted on 18 July 2019

Anna Ziegler’s provocative play is set to make its West End premiere in just a few weeks time after having first appeared in Los Angeles in 2017. Tickets for Actually are proving popular and it’s not surprising as this production will play at Trafalgar Studios for a strictly limited one-month run!

Actually tickets won’t be around long and this summer must-see hasn’t even begun yet! Ziegler’s play opens on 6 August and we can hardly wait for this tense, thought-provoking show. Ahead of its limited engagement, we got to ask Actually star Simon Manyonda some pressing questions. Read below to see what he had to say…

Q&A with Simon Manyonda from Actually

1. You’ve appeared in big stage productions as well as impressive films and tv shows, but what is it about Actually and the role of Tom that excites you for this working venture?
Simon: I think that the play deals with a very complex issue (consent) and therefore makes for a very complex character in Tom. The play and character are written very well and is able to house those complexities. I think Trafalgar Studios 2 is the perfect place for this exploration because it is at a major theatre in the centre of town (and the conversation) whilst at the same time only allowing 96 other participants per night.

2. You’ve worked with the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson and Andrew Scott; if you could work with any actor/director/producer, hugely famous or not, who would it be and why?
S: That’s really hard. I would love to work with Jordan Peele because I love sci-fi and fantasy. Particularly Sci-fi. I think that its power to explore the complexities of human emotion and psychology is really beautiful. Barry Jenkins and Steve McQueen are high up on the list.

3. Speaking of people you’ve worked with, how are you finding working with the cast and creative team on Actually?
S: Oscar and I have been friends for a few years so it’s great to finally get to collaborate with him. Yasmin is such a good actor with lovely instincts so I’m really looking forward to getting it on its feet - little anxious too!

4. Do you have a dream role; whether in theatre, television or upcoming films (Disney are churning out the live-action remakes)?
S: I would love to play Doctor Who - for the same reasons I want to work with Mr Peele - maybe he could direct me as Doctor Who!

5. Having worked in theatre, television and film, do you find yourself having a preference for the style of one over the other or do you like to mix it up?
S: I like to mix it up. It all depends on what kind of scale the story requires.

6. Actually explores some provocative and dark subject matters, particularly sexual consent, do you think this play sheds light on the subject?
S: I certainly feel that it sheds light on the subject. A lot of light. It explores people’s different relationships to the act of sex. It confronts racial bias. It unpicks the miscommunication men and women have with themselves and each other around sex.

7. If you were to be in a production (theatre, film or tv) that explored an important topic that you think needs light shedding on, what would it be and why?
S: I find it very unsettling how reactionary politics is right now - I feel like it’s always been polarised but I feel like people don’t listen to each at the moment and you can get shouted out for asking a simple question when simply seeking to become enlightened on a subject. It would be something dealing with how fragile the time we live in seems to have made us.

8. When you first read the script for Actually, what were your initial impressions?
S: As soon I put Actually down, I knew I wanted to do it. Tom is such an interesting character and I knew it would be a challenge to portray him.

9. In three words, why should people come and see Actually?
S: Complex, Thoughtful, Funny

Actually by American playwright, Anna Ziegler will open at London’s Trafalgar Studios 2 on 6 August for an extremely limited run. Performances are limited and with prices starting at just £24, tickets are being snapped up. Be sure to secure yours today and ensure you don’t miss out!

🎫 Book tickets to see Actually from £24 here.

By Jade Ali

A love for theatre stemmed from my love of literature and music, but the West End on my doorstep opened up a whole new appreciation and passion for all things stage-y